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Jewels Of Indochina

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highlights
  • Luang Prabang - Sleepy French Colonial riverside town with over 30 gilded temples
  • Hanoi - Wander through the bustling narrow streets of the Old Quarter lined with shop-houses
  • Halong Bay - Traditional junk boat cruise through one of the most breath-taking limestone landscapes in South East Asia
  • Hoi An - Charming ancient merchant's town on the banks of the Thu Bon River
The Jewels of Indochina tour starts in Vientiane and ends in Siem Reap. The Jewels of Indochina is an Active And Outdoor tour that takes 27 days taking you from Vientiane to Siem Reap and through other destinations in Asia.

This comprehensive trip through Indochina takes us into Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. We experience river life as we cruise to vast caves and beautiful waterfalls in Laos. In Vietnam we travel from north to south, discovering the jungle clad islands of Halong Bay, the old city of Hanoi and the Imperial citadel in Hue. Crossing into Cambodia we visit the incredible temple complex of Angkor.
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Arrive into Vientiane and check-in at the hotel. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, the Laos capital is a friendly town where we find weathered French Colonial mansions, stunning temples and steaming noodle stalls. A Beer Lao by the river at sunset is the best way to end the day, start your adventure and meet your fellow explorers.
Accommodation
  • Simple hotel
This morning we include a sightseeing tour around the city. This is a low-built, red roofed attractive capital city, with a French feel and a relaxed atmosphere. We explore some of the best sights including the Victory Gate which is a Triumphal Arch with good views of the town, the That Luang stupa which is said to contain a hair of the Buddha, and Wat Sisaket, a beautiful temple packed with fine Buddha images.

This afternoon is left free for further exploration. It is possible to visit nearby Buddha Park, a vast green expanse just 30 minutes from the city that houses a beguiling selection of Buddhist and Hindu statues. Alternatively you may choose to visit the COPE Museum, a not-for-profit organisation set up to provide prosthetic limbs to the many victims of the unexploded ordinance (UXO) left behind from the Vietnam war. The museum does an excellent job of giving some of the background to the bombing campaign, along with showcasing the important work the COPE foundation is doing. Most report it to be a sobering, emotive but rewarding experience that enhances one's understanding of this fascinating country.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Simple hotel
This morning we make the short three to four hour drive to Vang Vieng. There are some interesting stops to be made en route, including visiting the Sa paper project where traditional paper is made from the bark of a Mulberry Tree. Upon arrival in Vang Vieng, the afternoon has been left free to explore our new surroundings.

We recommend a short stroll down to the riverbank this evening in time for sunset, where there are a number of areas to sit and take in dramatic scenery. Watch people float down the river as the sun starts to dip behind the mountains and the sky turns a deep burnt-orange, just be sure to bring a camera to catch some sunset snaps.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Vang Vieng enjoys an idyllic setting. Perched on the banks of the Nam Song river it is surrounded by a patchwork of lush rice paddies and set to a backdrop of towering jagged limestone cliffs. Once known as a party-town for backpackers, present-day Vang Vieng has now re-invented itself as the home of adventure travel in Laos, where its setting lends itself to a host of activities for anybody from casual walkers to adrenaline thrill-seekers.

As there is plenty of choice available, today has been left free to choose from a number of optional excursions, such as a guided walk past rice paddies to nearby minority villages, a visit to the 2km underground cave network, zip wiring through the forest canopy or kayaking along the gentle Nam Song river.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Today we spend a full day driving north to Luang Prabang. The journey winds its way up into the mountainous region of central Laos, passing ramshackle villages that cling to the side of the mountain road, and driving over several high passes with stunning 360 degree views. There will be regular breaks to the drive, stopping for refreshments in a Hmong village and for photos on top of the high passes we drive over. We plan to arrive in Luang Prabang in the late afternoon.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang is nestled in a valley of lush rolling hills and sits at the confluence of two rivers, the Khan and the mighty Mekong. Influence from its French occupiers is peppered all over the city, with grand white-washed Indochinese villas lining its leafy streets, oddly complementing the golden-tipped wats (temples) found around almost every corner. Time moves so slowly here that it almost stands still, and a must-do is grabbing a Lao coffee, sitting down outside one of the many cafes and just watching the world go by, in traditional Lao-style.

This evening there is chance to walk to nearby Mount Phousi and climb its 328 steps in time for sunset, offering excellent panoramic views over this sleepy city and beyond.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Simple hotel
Today we'll really get to have a closer look at Luang Prabang. All the main sights of interest are close together and we'll have a chance to walk around the various wats (temples) including the splendid Wat Xieng Thong (the Golden Temple built in 1559), which is strikingly decorated in brilliant red and gold designs, with an imposing tiled roof and mosaic dragon motifs. We'll also visit Wat Sen and the Royal Palace Museum. Afterwards we will board a traditional long-tail boat for the short journey up the Mekong River to Pak Ou Caves. There a number of steps to climb here as we make our way up the limestone cliffs to reach the sacred Buddhist shrine. Although now abandoned by the monks, there is an altar for incense burning, flower offerings and numerous rock shelves crammed with thousands of Buddha images of all shapes and sizes. After returning to Luang Prabang, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Simple hotel
This morning we travel by bus to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls, approximately 45 minutes from Luang Prabang. Passing forested hills and several ethnic minority villages we arrive at the limestone falls that cascade into several turquoise pools below. Returning to Luang Prabang, there is an opportunity to take an afternoon bicycle trip to the Lao Loum village at Ban Phanom. Approximately 6 km from Luang Prabang, the road gently undulates through cultivated scenery and arrives at a well-kept scenic village on the banks of the Nam Khan River. We will spend time meeting the locals and learning a little more about the everyday life of rural Lao before returning to Luang Prabang for a well-earned Beer Lao.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Simple hotel
This morning is left free for further exploration of Luang Prabang. In the afternoon, we fly to Hanoi in Vietnam. This evening you can take a walk through the bustling streets and markets of the Old Quarter. The shops themselves have very narrow frontages, but are actually quite deep; they are known locally as 'tube' shops, while on the pavement food vendors sell noodles, snacks and stir-fries from shoulder panniers.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning we make a tour of the main sights of Hanoi. Architecturally styled like a French provincial town with tree-lined boulevards and substantial low-built houses the city is wonderfully nostalgic. Among the interesting sights are the charming One-Pillar Pagoda, Confucius Temple and the Presidential Palace. Ho Chi Minh himself, a spartan-living and scholarly man, chose not to live in the Presidential Palace; he preferred instead a simple teak stilt-house specially built for him in the grounds. This walk through the narrow lanes of the fascinating Old Quarter, where the streets are named after various crafts or specialties: Paper Street, Silk Street, Basket Street and so on. The shops themselves have very narrow frontages but are actually quite deep; they are known locally as tube shops. On the pavements food sellers sell noodles, snacks and stir-fries from shoulder panniers. The smell of food mixes with the smell of incense from small temples dotted around.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
We have some free time in Hanoi this morning perhaps to visit some of the many museums or Ho Chi Minh's austere mausoleum, which resembles Lenin's in Moscow. Afterwards we drive out towards the iconic Halong Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin. Thousands of jagged limestone islands rise out of the jade green waters like the hairy scales of a submerged dragon. In fact Halong means: 'Where the dragon descends to the sea'. As legend has it the rugged seascape was created by the pounding tail of a dragon as he ran from the mountains into the sea, carving the islands in his wake.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning we enjoy the romantic scenery of Halong Bay on a cruise amongst the islands. We'll have the chance to stop at a grotto beneath towering cliffs and perhaps visit a beach. It is interesting to see the curious assortment of tourist boats, traditional junks and wooden sampans gliding through the waters. We enjoy a seafood lunch on board the boat, before returning to a hotel in Hanoi to freshen up before boarding the Reunification Express to Hué.
Meals
  • Breakfast & Lunch
Accommodation
  • Simple overnight train
We arrive in Hué, one of the great cultural and religious centres of Vietnam, a quietly impressive place. The Perfume River divides the city in two and has been the inspiration for poets and painters for many centuries. This afternoon we to take a trip by boat along the Perfume River from Hué to the Thien Mu Pagoda. This serene temple is the oldest in Hué and also the symbol of the city.
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning we appreciate Hué's fascinating history with a visit to the Imperial Citadel. Located on the left bank is the river, this palace was built by the Nguyen dynasty, Vietnam's ruling emperors from the early 1800s to 1945. The Citadel has formal moats and impressive ramparts that were constructed by 20,000 men and was a copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Although most of the inner part of the city was totally destroyed during the month-long Tet Offensive in 1968, the vast outer walls and the west wing remain an eloquent reminder of the palace's former glory. The remainder of the day is free to perhaps explore some of the outlying Tombs of the Emperors.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
We enjoy a scenic drive across the spectacular Col des Nuages, otherwise known as the Hai Van Passobserving rural scenes of thatched, wooden houses and lime-green rice paddies as well as enjoying panoramic sea views. Pausing in Danang, once the centre of the Kingdom of Champa (2nd century AD - 1720) we visit the Cham Museum, home to a fine collection of Cham sculptures. Our next stop is at the nearby five peaks of the Marble Mountains, said to represent the five elements of water, wood, fire, gold and earth. Naturally formed grottoes have been transformed into heavily carved Buddhist sanctuaries. A short distance from the mountains we find the white sands of My Khe Beach (nicknamed China Beach by American troops)- an ideal spot for a brief rest. Finally we reach our destination - the UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
The historic, merchant town of Hoi An had become one of the busiest international trading ports of Southeast Asia by the 17th and 18th centuries. First colonised by the Portuguese in the 16th century it still retains its medieval charm today, with many of its old buildings superbly preserved. The day is free to explore at leisure. You may choose to visit the Japanese Bridge or some of the Chinese temples and meeting halls in the Old Town. There are many shops, bars and restaurants in this charming town and it is a great place to buy souvenirs, have clothing tailored or simply watch the world go by in a riverside café. You may wish to take an optional excursion out to the site of the My Lai village massacre memorial. The massacre was a significant turning point in the American War and the horrific story is told through a very emotive exhibition of photography.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
A further day is spent based in this lovely historic town. This morning we take an excursion to the holiest and most evocative of Vietnam's Cham sites, My Son. The Chams were dynastic lords who rejected the authority of China in 2AD and established their own kingdom. Although they benefited from strong sea links with the rest of Southeast Asia the kingdom's interior could not supply sufficient food for a strong military force. For 1000 years they managed to stave off attacks by the Vietnamese and Chinese, before being overcome by the Vietnamese in the 15th century. The track that leads to the site is slow and bumpy through wooded hills, but the site is certainly impressive with several groupings of Cham temples to be visited. Nowhere are the fine masonry skills of the Chams more evident than at My Son, despite the fact that much of the site was bombed in the 1960s. The afternoon is free to enjoy Hoi An further. The beach is only a short drive by taxi alternatively a boat trip on the river as the late afternoon sun lights up the riverfront is a treat.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
After a short drive to Danang Airport we fly to Ho Chi Minh City, from where we drive further south to Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta. Surrounded with lush and fertile land the area is home to small villages and swaying coconut palms. We take a local ferry to a nearby village, which we explore by trishaw. Later we board sampans, which are small Chinese wooden boats, and cruise along the narrow canals that shoot of the main vein of the Mekong River. After lunch at a local house we have some free time to explore the area further. Finally we return to Ben Tre by boat where we spend the night in a local homestay, with shared facilities and dorm-style accommodation.
Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Accommodation
  • Simple homestay
We spend the morning exploring the Nuoc Trong canal in the Mekong Delta, meeting some hard working locals, perhaps with time to see coconut processing and trading. We also have options to walk or cycle along the canal to explore further. Later on we drive back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning we walk around the central sights of Old Saigon, now District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City. We see the Notre Dame Cathedral and the GPO building as well as some of the old French Colonial hotels such as The Rex. We then drive to the Independence Palace (renamed the Reunification Hall) and the graphic War Remnants Museum. The afternoon is free for you to explore the city further at your leisure, perhaps with a visit to the huge Ben Thanh market.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning we take a short drive out of the city to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels, which formed an incredible underground command base for 10,000 Viet Cong troops and were a major part of the 1968 Tet Offensive. The site is a fascinating insight into the resourcefulness of the Vietnamese. There is the opportunity to crawl through a small specially adapted section of the tunnels should you wish to sample the claustrophobic conditions in which the Viet Cong lived. Afterwards we bid farewell to our tour leader who continues back to Ho Chi Minh City while you continue by road into Cambodia. Border formalities take place at Moc Bai (Vietnam) and Bavet (Cambodia) crossing point. Our final destination is Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Phnom Penh took over from Angkor as Cambodia's capital city in the 1440s. It is now a lively city with many French colonial buildings and plenty to see. Accompanied by a local guide we visit the National Museum, a treasure trove of beautifully preserved carvings and lintels rescued from Angkor; the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda as well as the temple of Wat Phnom.
This afternoon we visit the emotive Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, formerly a high school that became the Khmer Rouge's main torture and interrogation centre; and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek - the memorial stupa is a glass tower filled with human skulls - a gruesome reminder of the scale of Pol Pot's atrocities before returning back in the city.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Today is free allowing you the opportunity to explore the city or its surrounds further. Optional excursions close to the city include a trip to Silk Island, Chiso Mountain or the abandoned Royal City of Oudong. Each of these excursions are half a day in duration and may be combined, your tour leader will discuss in more detail. Silk Island or Koh Dach is reached by a short ferry journey along the Mekong where the majority of villagers on the island earn a living through producing handicrafts. It is a great opportunity to learn more about traditional ways of life and interact with locals as you learn about the island's iconic silk weaving. Chiso Mountain (380m), located in Sia village about 62 km south of Phnom Penh, is topped by the ruins of an 11th century Khmer Brahmanic Temple with fine views of the surrounding paddy fields. Oudong is about an hour north of the capital and offers the opportunity to explore attractive historic temples and stupas.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
This morning we make an early start for our drive to Siem Reap, stopping somewhere for lunch on the way. Later in the day we journey to nearby Tonle Sap Lake where we board our charter boat for a leisurely cruise through the fascinating floating village of Chong Kneas, where we see stilt houses, floating markets and an array of boats.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Our exact programme over the next three days may change slightly at our local guide's discretion (to avoid crowds, coincide with sunsets, etc.). Angkor was actually a series of cities, built between the 9th and the 13th centuries by the Khmer kings, with a population of 750,000 in its heyday. The Angkor complex is spread out over some 155 square kilometres, scattered with magnificent carved stone temples, elegant sculptures and incredible bas reliefs. We visit the Rolous group, which are some of the earliest temples. In the afternoon we visit the temples of Banteay Srei, a small but beautiful temples with exquisite carvings. We end the day at East Mebon, with a visit to Pre Rup temple for sunset.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
We continue our exploration with a visit to the temples of King Jayavarman Vll, reputedly Angkor's greatest king. The fortified city of Angkor Thom, which he built at the end of the 12th century is enclosed by a square wall with five monumental gates decorated with stone elephant trunks. Originally, crocodiles inhabited the moat and huge statues of 54 different gods protected each gate. The city contains another of Angkor's true gems - The Bayon. Although not as impressive as Angkor Wat from a distance, The Bayon is nevertheless incredible for its maze of corridors, gothic style towers and magical central temples. We'll explore The Terrace of the Elephants and the Leper King, the Baphuon and Phimeanakas, and some of the surrounding temples such as Preah Khan.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
On our final day we make a visit to the 2nd Angkor capital that includes the temples of Prasat Kravan, Banteay Kdei and Takeo. A highlight for many is a visit to the atmospheric temple of Ta Prohm, where the film Tomb Raider was filmed, lying half consumed by the jungle. We leave the best known and most breathtaking of all the sights, Angkor Wat, to the end - where we stay until the sun sets on the last night of our adventure.
Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
  • Standard hotel
Tour ends after breakfast. If you have time you may choose to browse the old market for some last minute bargains, or enjoy afternoon tea at The Foreign Correspondent's Club.
Meals
  • Breakfast
what’s included
Meals
  • 25 Breakfast, 2 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Accommodation
  • 5 nights simple hotel
  • 19 nights standard hotel
  • 1 night simple overnight train
  • 1 night simple homestay
Transport
  • Bus, Boat, Flight, Train
Guide
  • Explore Tour Leader, Boat Crew, Driver(s), Local Guide(s)
what’s excluded
  • International Flights
  • Any international flights to Vientiane and from Siem Reap are not included in this price. We always recommend that you arrive 1 day prior to your tour starting date.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel insurance is not included in this Jewels of Indochina tour. Travel insurance is mandatory to buy. We recommend purchasing it from World Nomads.
Tour details
Duration 27 days
Tour Type Group Tour - Max 17 participants
guiding method Live guide/instructor
Guide Language English
Starts/Ends Vientiane, Laos/ Siem Reap, Cambodia
Get a PDF file with detailed trip information: Download Trip Notes for Jewels of Indochina
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Payment

A deposit of 284 USD is required to confirm this tour. The remaining balance will be charged 59 days before departure. For any departures within 24 July 2019 full payment is required.

Travel Insurance

The Jewels of Indochina tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.

Visa

For this Jewels of Indochina tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

CancellationNo additional cancellation fees apply for this Jewels of Indochina tour. You can cancel the tour up to 60 days prior departure and avoid paying the full amount, but your deposit paid is non-refundable. No refund applies for cancellations within 59 days of departure.
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  • Custom Destination: {{tripPlannerCustom[myRequest.id].destination}}
  • Custom Activity: {{tripPlannerCustom[myRequest.id].activity}}
  • Group Size: {{myRequest.no_of_adults > 0 && myRequest.no_of_children > 0?',':''}} {{myRequest.group_type=='Single'?'1 Person':myRequest.group_type=='Couple'?'2 People':''}}
  • {{myRequest.departure_month || myRequest.duration?'Approx. Dates':'Travel Dates'}}: {{myRequest.start_date | readableDate}} to {{myRequest.end_date | readableDate}} {{myRequest.departure_month}}, {{myRequest.duration}} Not decided yet
  • Tour Type: {{myRequest.tourtype | tourtypefullName}}
  • Age Group: {{myRequest.age_group}} yrs
  • Type of Tour: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].type_of_tour}}
  • Accommodation Option: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].accommodation_option}}
  • Budget Per Person: USD {{myRequest.approx_budget_amount}}
  • Budget Flexibility {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].budget_flexibility}}
  • Trip Planning Stage {{myRequest.trip_planning_stage}}
  • Trip Details: ... Read More Read Less
How our Travel Expert Service Works
  • 1 We connect you with a hand-picked and qualified travel expert who can match your trip requirements. The advantage of working directly through a travel expert is that you get the best and unfiltered advice from the very beginning.
  • 2 The travel expert will help you with creating and customising a trip for you. If you have any questions or concerns relating to the trip, the travel expert will also be able to help you with those.
  • 3 When you feel that your trip is exactly per your wish, you'll be able to book the entire trip here on Bookmundi.
The Advantages of Bookmundi
  • Selected Local Travel Experts All our local travel experts have been chosen based on rigorous selection criteria. In fact, we reject 98 out of 100 local travel agencies, and thereby giving you access to the top 1-2% local travel experts.
  • Secure Online Payment and Financial Guarantee Each and every trip is required to go through Bookmundi's secure payment platform, powered by Stripe and supported by SSL. All payments are therefore carried out in secure manners. We are furthermore member of the Danish Travel Fund which gives you a 100% financial guarantee for any money you pay on Bookmundi, even if we went bankrupt (which we we will not!).
  • Trip Replacement or 100% Reimbursement Bookmundi has hand-picked your local travel expert. Our role, as your trusted third party, is therefore to make sure that your entire experience runs as seamless and secure as possible. We guarantee to you that in the unlikely event where a local travel expert cancels your trip after your deposit or full payment has been made, we commit to replacing these services with another equally qualified agency so that your trip can go ahead as planned, or failing to replace it, we will give you a 100% reimbursement.
New customised trip enquiry by {{getFirstName(activeuser)}}:
  • Title: {{myRequest.title}}
  • Country: {{!!tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].geoLocation?tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].geoLocation:myRequest.country}}
  • Destination: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].destinations.join(', ')}}
  • Activity: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].activity.join(', ')}}
  • Custom Destination: {{tripPlannerCustom[myRequest.id].destination}}
  • Custom Activity: {{tripPlannerCustom[myRequest.id].activity}}
  • Group Size: {{myRequest.no_of_adults > 0 && myRequest.no_of_children > 0?',':''}} {{myRequest.group_type=='Single'?'1 Person':myRequest.group_type=='Couple'?'2 People':''}}
  • {{myRequest.departure_month || myRequest.duration?'Approx. Dates':'Travel Dates'}}: {{myRequest.start_date | readableDate}} to {{myRequest.end_date | readableDate}} {{myRequest.departure_month}}, {{myRequest.duration}} Not decided yet
  • Tour Type: {{myRequest.tourtype | tourtypefullName}}
  • Age Group: {{myRequest.age_group}} yrs
  • Type of Tour: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].type_of_tour}}
  • Accommodation Option: {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].accommodation_option}}
  • Budget Per Person: USD {{myRequest.approx_budget_amount}}
  • Budget Flexibility {{tripPlannerKeysNames[myRequest.id].budget_flexibility}}
  • Trip Planning Stage {{myRequest.trip_planning_stage}}
""
Can you handle {{getFirstName(activeuser)}}'s enquiry? Rejection Reason
{{myRequest.reject_reason?myRequest.reject_reason:'Sorry, Your trip request has been rejected.'}}
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